JAN 2018  

India is a land with large natural diversity—huge mountains, tropical forests, rivers, estuaries, seas, deserts, as well as a wide variety of flora and fauna. It is therefore, no wonder that nature created a deep impression on Indian thought from a very early age, and that this inspiration is prominently manifested through various art forms and literature. Indian artists have depicted plants, trees, animals, and birds in their art forms since ancient times, and represented animals, birds, and flora, in imaginative ways through paintings, sculptures, and decorative art.

This month, our cover story, titled, 'Portrayal of Nature in Indian Art' endeavours to map some prominent representations of nature in Indian art, from prehistoric to modern art. Sometimes, these natural themes form the subject, but quite often they create the backdrop depicting the larger picture of the time. Prehistoric art tells us about growing human and animal interaction through scenes depicting animal chases; hunters armed with sticks, spears, bows, and arrows accompanied by animals; and ploughing. With time, Indian art became more stylized and developed a distinct religious symbolism that gave nature a sacred stature and may have played an important role in conserving the environment. Representations of nature in Indian art are also very prominently found in tribal art forms, such Madhubani, Kalamkari, Warli, and Gond. These are well-known for their eye-catching representations of flora and fauna. The article traces the depiction of themes inspired by natural surroundings or the environment.

Our cover story also discusses the impact of environmental struggle on art, and how many modern artists have used their art to make a statement against the increasing deterioration of the natural environment. Therefore, engagement with nature through art is now leading to environmental awareness and better action.

The feature article this month discusses the possible ways in which plants and trees help in keeping the atmospheric pollutants under check by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Absorbing carbon is, by far, the greatest and most important activity that forests carry out in reducing the harmful effects of climate change. The highly efficient carbon sequestering properties of C4 plants have encouraged scientists and botanists around the world to convert C3 food plants such as rice into C4 type plants. This may also help in tackling the food security concern in the world.